Who (and what) we’re fighting

During lunch with Don Quixote, he noted that I ‘ve concluded that both the ideology of Islamofascism and its followers are completely evil. He’s right. I do. We had a great lunch-time discussion while I sought, in very convoluted fashion, why I thought this way, but still managed not to hold any animus towards the abstract idea of Islam or to Muslims generally. I then came home to discover that Dennis Prager’s column tackles precisely this issue. I’m going to quote from him extensively, and then round it out with a comment of my own:

Islamic terror is a tactic of an ideology. That ideology can be called “radical Islam,” “militant Islam” or “Islamist,” but it is rooted in Islamic imperialism.

With a background in religious studies and having studied Arabic and Islam, many listeners have called my radio show asking me if I consider Islam to be inherently violent or even evil. From 9-11 to now, I have responded that I do not assess religions; I assess the practitioners of religions. Why? Because it is almost impossible to assess any religion since its own adherents so often differ as to what it is. For example, is Christianity the Christianity of most evangelicals or that of the National Council of Churches? On virtually every important moral issue, they differ. The same holds true for right- and left-wing groups within Judaism.

Nevertheless, one can say that from its inception, Islam has been imperialist. My working definition of imperialism is that of University of London professor Efraim Karsh, whose recent book, “Islamic Imperialism” (Yale University Press), is one of the few indispensable books on Islam.

Karsh defines imperialism as “conquering foreign lands and subjugating their populations.” Whenever possible, Muslims from the time of Muhammad have done that. Now, the Church also subjugated peoples to Christianity, and Europe suffered from prolonged religious wars. But as Karsh notes, from its inception, Christianity acknowledged a separation of the religious and the political, rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

No such division was allowed for in Islam. That is why the nation-state developed in the Christian world but not in the Muslim world. The Muslim states of the Middle East, for example, are creations of Western (secular) imperialism or pre-date Islam (Egypt, for example); and they are foreign concepts to most Middle Eastern Muslims, who recognize themselves much more as part of the ummah, the Muslim community, than as Iraqis, Jordanians, Syrians, etc.

Nor is Islamic imperialism only a function of Muslim behavior rather than Muslim theology. Karsh opens his book citing the statements of four Muslim figures.

The Prophet Muhammad in his farewell address: “I was ordered to fight all men until they say, ‘There is no god but Allah.'”

Saladin (great 12th-century founder of the Ayyubid dynasty that included Ayyubid Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and much of present-day Saudi Arabia): “I shall cross this sea to their islands to pursue them until there remains no one on the face of the earth who does not acknowledge Allah.”

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (father of the Islamic revolution in Iran): “We will export our revolution throughout the world . . . until the calls ‘There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah’ are echoed all over the world.”

Osama bin Laden in November 2001: “I was ordered to fight the people until they say ‘there is no god but Allah, and his prophet Muhammad.'”

No one should have a problem with Muslims wanting the whole world Muslim. After all, Christians would like the whole world to come to Christ. What should matter to all people is the answer to one question: What are you prepared to do to bring the world to your religion? For virtually every living Christian, the answer is through modeling and verbal persuasion (and Jews never believed the world needs to be Jewish).

But by the most conservative estimates, 10 percent of Muslims are in sympathy with the bin Laden way. That means at least 100 million people are prepared to murder (and apparently torture) in Allah’s name. And given the history of Islamic imperialism and its roots in Muslim theology, hundreds of millions more are probably fellow travelers. Hence the almost unanimous Muslim governments’ support for the genocidal Islamic regime in Sudan. [Hyperlinks omitted.]

The one thing I want to add is that I do understand that not all people in Islamofascist countries are evil. The easiest example is to point to the children of a regime. For example, the San Francisco Chronicle the other day ran a sob story about the fact that children and sick people are suffering terribly as a result of the boycotts most Western nations have instituted against Hamas. (There is, of course, no mention of the fact that no Muslim countries are filling this gap.) The implication is that we should once again prop up the murderous Hamas regime to save its most innocent victims.

But one has to ask — in the long run, are we doing those victims are favor by propping up a corrupt regime? These regimes tend to survive by eating their own. The same holds true for the argument that we shouldn’t declare war on a nation hostile to America because innocent women and children will die in the process. That’s a true fact — innocents will die — but is that an excuse to let the regime continue? Should we have stopped short of declaring total war on Nazi Germany because there would inevitably be innocents in the crossfire? (Indeed, my goyishe cousin, a lovely person, was one of those children who suffered through the carpet bombings in Berlin.)

The cruel fact of life on earth is that there are innocents trapped in foul places, and that the freeing those places sometimes destroys innocents as well. But if we don’t make the effort to purge the evil, the innocent are going to suffer anyway. I’ll remind you that, while Americans suffered agonies over the Afghanis killed when we invaded, the Afghanis themselves were grateful, considering those deaths a necessary cost of freedom.